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Executive Forum on Digital Transformation (DX)- Chicago, September 12 2017


“Argyle Executive Forum is bringing together senior digital & IT executives from a variety of industry verticals for our biannual CIO Chicago Forum. Throughout a full day of content and networking, we will focus on the most pressing issues facing IT executives with regards to leading the business through digital transformation, with an agenda geared specifically towards Chief Information officers, Chief Data Officers, Chief Digital Officers, as well as Data/ Analytics/MIS VPs, Directors, and Architects in a leading role.

Leading the Business Through Digital Transformation – Argyle.



imageFirst, thanks to the team at Argyle for what turned out to be a timely and insightful conference on DX, Digital Transformation. Nokia was one of the Executive Forum’s sponsors as a Senior Supporter.

It is worth noticing that this event featured partners who we work with such as HP Enterprise, Thought Leader Sponsor, and IBM, Breakout Session Sponsor.

That talks to the criticality of collaborative undertakings as Digital Transformation becomes a pressing objective across industries, academia, public service and government sectors.

What follows is my notes and personal insights. While all the sessions and discussions were quite relevant, I would like to highlight the opening keynote, which set the tone and narrative of the event.


imageJames P. MacLennan, SVP & CIO at IDEX, discussed “The Five Components of a Great Digital Strategy,” which addressed the fact that “Design Thinking”, “Human Factors” and a collaborative culture involving interdisciplinary workstyles and “Great Teams” have become of the essence.

Moreover, he stated that “a Digital Business” will only succeed when it understands hot to connect with people.” The “human element” and, therefore, “people centered” strategies turn out to be critical success factors.

I would like to add that this entails engineering a continuum of (a) stakeholders, who are all human personas by definition, and to do so across (b) UX (user experience) and CX (customer experience) domains.

This job takes (c) a holistic understanding of customer facing (front end) and resource facing (back end) elements forming a coherent end-to-end system. Otherwise, operational fragmentation will take a toll and will deny the intended DX benefits.


imageJames’ presentation displayed the convoluted UI (user interface) shown in this picture to illustrate the paradox of well intended yet counterproductive implementations that negate transformation initiatives.

Here is another valuable insight coming out of Argyle’s Executive Forum: information technologies (IT) and tech and processes for operations cannot longer be worlds apart, which demands superb cross-functional teamwork.

Cognitive overload, deficient information architecture, and poor usability translates into: human error, risk aversion, costly budget overruns, missing or deviating from goals, so on and so forth.

Any and all of these issues combined can be silently impacting quality or, simply, just lowering the bar for a business to get through noisy and cluttered operational environments. That is hardly the stuff that operational excellence calls for.


Obviously, in the context of CX, customer satisfaction becomes harder and harder to attain and, more specifically, to get that effectively done in a consistent fashion.

Predictability and consistency are key objectives for any Quality Management program. If that scenario alone wasn’t troublesome enough, Customer Delight (rather than just satisfying agreed upon requirements) is Design Thinking’s ultimate performance indicator, which commands a premium clearly beyond reach under those circumstances.

Quality management wise, “satisfaction” is the fulfilment of expected specifications while “delight” is about great pleasure, or great satisfaction if you will. “Satisfaction” can be rationalized and is the acceptance ticket to be in business. “Delight” accounts for human affects (emotions) and is a powerful source of differentiation. Those who think that’s just about splitting hairs should take a pause and think twice because DX is set to enable game changing experiences on all counts and fronts.


Thoughtout the forum and session after session, Jim’s “Design for Humans”  principle gained more and more critical mass as presenters and panelists discussed the reasons why we should be mindful of the user journey and how to best improve all touch points along the way.

In one of the panel discussions this became even more evident when the question on aligning people, processes and technologies pointed to difficult prioritization exercises. Note that there was immediate consensus on the need for putting people first and humanizing technology and processes by applying Design Thinking, a human centered methodology that is corner stone to the job of creative technologists.

That means projects that are driven by clear missions and specific experiential outcomes and lifecycles (Goal Directed Design) rather than just an I/O approach. It also means rapid experience prototyping and A/B multivariate testing to explore possibilities since Design Thinking is a serial innovation engine.



imageLet’s connect some more dots.

Chicago’s NPR station aired a rerun of The Power of Design this past weekend. The discussion was centered on “How Can We Design For A Better Experience.”

By the way, TED’s acronym actually stands for the convergence of Technology, Entertainment and… Design.


Interview with Tony Fadell, one of the main designers of the iPod (Apple) and founder of Nest (Google).

 “Design begins by also noticing all those little problems that many ignore (…) we we though our lives accepting these design flaws that actually don’t improve our lives.”

“Steve Jobs challenged us to see our products through the eyes of the customer, the new customer, the one that has fears and possible frustrations, and hopes and exhilaration that the new technology can work straight away for them. He called it “staying beginners” and wanted to make sure that we focused on those tiny little details to make things work faster and seamless for the new customers.”

“There is this positive emotional momentum that builds on itself at each step of the process (…) when you hit a brick wall you loose all the momentum (…) and though away an entire great experience.”

“There are to halves to design, just as there are two halves to your brain, the emotional part and the rational part. If you want people to truly adopt your product it has to have an emotional component, something that grabs you (…) that unlocks your curiosity, it also needs to rationally work (…) because people see value beyond the sexiness.”


Interview with Joe Gebbia, Airbnb cofounder.

“Any time that you see duct tape in the world, that’s a design opportunity (…) it’s an indicator that something is broken, that something did not perform the way it was design to and that there is an opportunity to improve it.”

“Design is the key to (Airbnb) success (…) and as a competitive advantage, design is thing that can separate you (…) the next thing that can differentiate you. All things being equal, two comparable products side by side with the same technical features and components… you will be crazy to choose the one that is harder to use.”

“Airbnb’s design decisions not only made the service easy to use but it helped millions of complete estrangers trust each other (…) and open their homes (…) design is more than the look and feel of something, it is the whole experience.”


Related Posts:

Nokia HFE17 Human Factors Engineering Conference May 23-24 2017

“We celebrated HFE’s 70th Anniversary at Bell Labs, the home of the creative technologists who pioneered this inter-disciplinary field. We are also encouraging our community’s renewed efforts to shape innovations that enable the human possibilities of technology in today’s connected world.”

“This year’s agenda featured guest speakers from AT&T and Verizon, practitioners in diverse industries from NASA, IBM, Information Builders and Lab Z, experts from MIT and IIT, as well as Bell Labs and Nokia flagship and award winning innovations. This event is organized by Nokia’s Technology Leadership Council in partnership with Bell Labs.”



The above file delivers the event’s agenda and topic abstracts. First, there is a need for thanking everyone involved: speakers, participants, volunteers and sponsors, as well as Nokia’s IT and Real Estate staff. Our conference involved 20 fast paced sessions over two days. 300+ of us participated in this conference from multiple worldwide locations as well as online. Approximately 150 people registered with NokiaEDU, Nokia’s training platform.


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I am happy to share that feedback received during and after the event was very positive and encouraging beyond expectations, some of it was incredibly passionate. If you are a peer at Nokia, note that you now have access to HFE17’s communications, conversations and files and the recordings.

Moreover, we are now working on jumpstarting a company-wide community of interest centered on Human Factors and are also gearing for HFE18, which will feature the John E. Karlin Recognition Award. John pioneered HFE at Bell Labs in 1947. He passed away four years ago and his contributions paved the way for user centered innovations.


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Nokia’s legendary journey has already passed the 150 year mark and, interestingly enough, more than 95% of us did not carry a Nokia badge four years ago. There are more than 100,000 of us embarked in this endeavor and we all collectively represent 160 nationalities working in more than 100 countries.

Our customers are the world’s communications service providers, governments, enterprises and consumers. We deploy the industry’s most comprehensive set of products, services, as well as licensing opportunities with a patent portfolio featuring in excess of 30,000 inventions.


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But, most importantly, our innovations and collective know-how make a decisive difference when we “shape technologies that truly transform the human experience” as technical prowess alone does not suffice. HFE17 was sponsored by Bell Labs and supported by our Technology Leadership Council, a grassroots organization formed by volunteers whose goal is to help foster a culture of innovation that honors Nokia’s renewed commitment to “enabling the human possibilities of technology.”

Humanizing technology is the core belief of those of us working in Human Factors Engineering, whether the job focuses on UX, User Experience, or CX, Customer Experience, dataviz and graphical interfaces or natural language interaction, services or operations, software or hardware, HCI, Human Computer Interaction, or HITL, Human in the Loop Computing, with AI, Artificial Intelligence.

HFE2017’s main objective was to get our community connected so that everyone’s good efforts become as meaningful and impactful as they can be.


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I would also like to take this chance to highlight Betsy Cowell’s leadership. I had the pleasure to co-chair this event with her. Betsy’s discipline became instrumental given the scope of the effort and unexpected challenges.

Some of you might recall our first attempt to get HFE off the ground last year. Back then, we encountered technical and scheduling shortcomings when being asked to switch to a new webcasting system yet to be deployed. So, we ended up postponing.

Betsy managed to re-energize this undertaking with the turn of the year. She engaged a small army of volunteers who became key to HFE17’s success. Some just wouldn’t give up even when facing technical and organizational intricacies in the eleventh hour. TLC makes a difference by taking down silos and fostering a culture of collaboration across the company.

NOKIA LeanOps @ Mobile World Congress 2017


“Cloud technologies virtualize your network to allow intelligent automation that instantly reacts to fluctuating demand and accelerates new services. Cloud is the foundation for IoT and 5G. But to realize the potential of a software-defined network, you need to operate a software-defined business – with the integrated performance you can depend on. Our cloud solutions and services featured at Mobile World Congress will demonstrate how you can transform your network, operations and business for agility, automation, security and instant service innovation.”Realizing the agility of software defined business through the Cloud. Nokia, February 2017.


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LeanOps was showcased in the booth’s private area. We had a good show and our team was involved in a number of discussions with network operators, ecosystem partners, industry analysts and public officials.

LeanOps’ mission is to “Make Sophisticated Operations Effortless.” Our team assembles end-to-end solutions to deliver the greater value of the whole. This is a systems integration job that takes advantage of Nokia’s portfolio depth, our ecosystem and open source tools. LeanOps interlaces (a) analytics, (b) automation, (c) programmability and (d) human factors engineering: our solution’s DNA.

We unveiled our new Decision Support System (DSS). This is a “solution level” single pane of glass, a metaphorical and multi-modal user interface purposely optimized for inter-disciplinary teamwork. LeanOps’ DSS renders complex systems and delivers multi-dimensional data visualization following the project’s “operations friendly” design directive.

From a Goal Directive Engineering standpoint, we have set a “4I Framework” that entails (1) Intuitive use (2) Immersive and (3) Interactive maneuverability delivering (4) Insightful experiences rather than just data. Moreover, all the magic is fully abstracted and, therefore, the underlying sophistication is completely transparent to the users. LeanOps’ SAIL, Smart Abstraction and Integration Layer, takes care of that under the hood. DSS and SAIL are both intertwined and integral to LeanOps’ end-to-end solutions are not sold independently as standalone products.

I would also like to share that LeanOps’ DSS transcends conventional HCI, Human-Computer-Interaction, to bring about CNI, Collaborative-Network-Intelligence, instead. I personally believe that switching gears from HCI to CNI makes all the difference given the value of human networks and machine networks, where collective intelligence becomes the outcome.

Taking into consideration LeanOps’ next-gen positioning, our MWC demo station was located in the “Cloud Zone,” though it is worth highlighting that LeanOps’ mission entails “operational transformation” with end-to-end solutions addressing hybrid environments and bridging legacy, current and emerging technologies, physical and virtual assets. “Lean” is a holistic undertaking involving practices, processes, technologies, tools and human factors, and so is Nokia LeanOps.


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This year’s video is not publicly available. So, if you happen to be a network operator, an enterprise wrestling with complex environments, or a partner interested in LeanOps, please send me a message over LinkedIn to set up a call.

By the way, since I keep getting questions about Nokia’s new phones… I need to refer you to our peers at HMD Global, the independent Finnish company behind the Nokia branded phones. Nokia Corporation focuses on technologies zeroing in on network systems, analytics, applications, and services at the time of writing this. LeanOps is part of Nokia Corporation and our team, Solutions & Partners, is in the Applications & Analytics Group.


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